The idea of a machine created wave that can provide surfers with the same stoke that comes from riding a natural wave has been somewhat of a nirvana for the surfing industry for the last 10 years.
The industry has followed a two horse race for the past few years, a race between none other than 12 time world champ Kelly Slater, and industry leading shaper Greg Webber. Although each teams project has always had their own merits, it has been Greg and his team that has snared the first significant development victory.
Can you imagine Sitting out at snapper waiting an hour for a wave, or standing and waiting thirty seconds for a wave like this.
Over the weekend, and early this week, multiple news outlets have spread the details around this victory, a signed memorandum of understanding with surfing entrepeneur David Baird, outlining the broad details of the company’s first installation. Accompanying this news was the release of a brand spanking new video clip – one showing a perfect peeling right, rising and falling around a running tracked shaped pool. The wave is a result of the Kelvin Wave technology generated by the machine running around the inside of the pool. With the ability to change the height and shape of the wave, it seems clear the Webber Wave Pool proposal is going to trigger interest from every surfer on the planet.
What people do need to realise though is this clip is the result of years of work, and significant investment personally from Greg. Multiple scaled pools have been created in Tasmania for testing to ensure the technology is sound from both a operational and commercial perspective.
Initial testing behind the wake of a fishing trawler.
Once the news dropped we fired some questions at Greg hoping to catch him still in celebration mood, with enough time on his hands to pen some responses. While we had a million questions we wanted to ask – we refined it down to what we think is a nice little summary to support the stories already out there. Have a read and enjoy the clips and start weaxing your boards for September 2015 – the current scheduled open date!!
Animation of the pool design for the Gold Coast – can you just imagine the tube time we could all clock up?
Wave shape has been the key driving factor, with Greg Webber not settling for anything less than hollow and rippable. Find out more in this clip.
One of the clips that first got us frothing – the fishing trawler wake and the implications for a man made wave park……what seemed a lifetime away back 3 years ago is now almost a reality. Sit back and watch some lads enjoy the wake of a fishing trawler in the Clarence river.
The pool is to be operated by Kelvin Wave technology – here Mr Webber himself breaks down exactly what this technology is.
Originally tested behind fishing trawlers, the Kelvin Wave technology now has a patent behind it – and no one is more clued up on this than Greg Webber himself.
Dan from SurfStitch: So Greg – firstly congratulations on the fabulous news that a memorandum of understanding has been executed! No doubt there were some celebrating done when you signed the dotted line?
Greg Webber: I probably poured a slightly bigger drink that night, but It’s been so long that I’ve made sure I just don’t look to the future at all, so when it happened it made me think, “OK, what do we have to do next?”.
D: How long has the possible relationship with David Baird been on the table for? Has he been getting his hands dirty and involved with design concepts or has he simply been standing by your side?
G: About two years. As for the design side he’s obviously involved in how the wave rate influences the numbers, but as a surfer he said he wants to ride proper barrels and that the pool has to be big enough to do exactly that.
D: The idea that surfers of all skills levels could potentially soon be enjoying world class waves during QLD’s notorious flat spells truly is a fabulous achievement. Do you see the Gold Coast as a template for potential Global Expansion? If so, any other locations on the radar?
G: You’re right the Goldy is on our radar, as it has to be, with about 90,000 surfers being under-supplied with waves. Rabbit Bartholemew set up a meeting with Mayor Tate and he is very supportive. The thing with the Goldy is that it won’t be one pool. Even with our looped linear that can make 500 waves an hour, there will be a need for more than one pool, more like 7. What if half the surfers on the Goldy wanted to go to the pool at least once a week?
D: Assuming the wave won’t be breaking in very deep water – is there the potential for a carpet burn style of injury from a run in with the bottom?
G: Not with the surfacing that will be used, and where the waves are hollow it’s still in water depths approximately 1.2 times the height of the wave so it’s not like a 5 foot wave on a ledge that is 3 foot deep.
D: Now we know you are a man for the details – so have you set any indicative range around the commercialism of it for an everyday punter? Will it be a day pass style set up with the potential for annual passes? Can you give any indication around costs?
G: I’m not as keen for the annual pass thing or membership but it’s still being discussed. Even though it’s really David’s call on that, we are discussing the merits of all approaches. I’m far more into just paying for what you use, so that you can’t be hit with the cost of annual pass that for whatever reason you don’t fully get the benefit of. Maybe that’s just because I’ve paid for two gym memberships and never go!!
D: One question everyone has fired around straight away is the potential for competitions at the pool. Some people have reacted saying its unnatural for an event, but do you feel there is really any difference to surfers on the exact same wave as snowboarders or skateboarders in a built half pipe or street course?
G: Yeah that’s one argument, that it hasn’t hurt the half pipe events, where the surface doesn’t move at all. Our best argument though, is that the wave doesn’t have to remain mechanically unchanging throughout the ride, we can vary wave height and wave angle and wave shape by small increments during the ride, so that there will be a random aspect to the wave that is exactly like waves in nature.
D: What role do you feel it will play in the progression of the sport? Do you feel being able to practice at such higher regularity will push the sport to new levels, at least for the junior kids?
G: Sure it will probably change a lot, but I’d rather let the waves we make do the talking.